Canadian Music

08 Jan

Response to Paul Wells, January, 2009
who wrote an article about the infrequency of Canadian music performance by Canadian Symphony Orchestras.

Our orchestral one-night stands,
Paul Wells in Macleans Magazines, 1 December 2008

Dear Mr. Wells,

I have a theory about why Canadian music is not often performed. The theory is based on my fifty years of professional music experience, but unsupported by scholarly research.

The music most often performed by today’s symphony orchestras, was written  in a 400-year span of time beginning about the 18th century.

During those 400 years, thousands of works for orchestra were created, but only about 400 survive today as core symphonic repertoire. (I define core repertoire as symphonies, overtures and concerti.)

These 400 core works were composed by approximately 100 composers, or four ‘core’ works per composer, per hundred years. (I take the 100 composers statistic from  various on line classic CD retailers, “Google” lists and again, from personal experience.) Further, these composers  lived primarily in thirteen western countries, or in countries where western art music prevailed: i.e. Russia & Japan.

Thus, every 100 years,each country has contributed to the core symphonic  repertoire about seven and a half works .

In light of this, and Canada’s youthful fifty years in the symphonic music game,  I believe two or three regularly performed Canadian works to be about equal to the western world’s average.

Sincerely yours,

Robin Engelman

Copyright©2009, Robin Engelman

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Posted by on January 8, 2009 in Articles, Contemporary Music


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